Eco-Reps host sustainability scavenger hunt around campus


Emma Santini, ’22, stands next to a clue for the Sustainable Scavenger Hunt on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in front of Rathbone Dining Hall. The scavenger hunt was held by the Eco-Reps leadership program this week to showcase sustainable things across campus and to encourage students to take up more sustainable practices. (Courtesy of Sarah Valenti)

Eco-Reps encouraged participation in Lehigh’s sustainability efforts by running a scavenger hunt for students during Earth Week.

Throughout the week, riddles were posted on the Eco-Reps social media pages. Students were encouraged to work in teams of up to four people and send in pictures of themselves at the location that they believed matched the clue.

“It is basically a celebration of how we can be more environmentally conscious at Lehigh,” Eco-Rep Coordinator Matthew Fainor, ’20, said. “As earth week is a celebration of how we can be more sustainable, it is basically celebrating the resources on campus that we have.”

The scavenger hunt kicked off on April 15 with the riddle, “I eat what you feed me, but I get my energy from the sun. You can find me around campus always with a friend. We don’t have a lot in common, but we make a great team!”

This was the Eco-Reps’ first year running the sustainability scavenger hunt, so the turnout was relatively low.

Sarah Valenti, ’22, said she had fun participating in the scavenger hunt and thinks others would too.

“Not many people knew about the scavenger hunt,” Valenti said. “I think a lot of people would have had fun if they knew more about it.”

Fainor said participation was low, but did not define his expectations about how the event would turn out. He said the efforts are just another little way to get out there and promote sustainability.

Jessica Levy, ’20, also participated in the event.

“I think it is really fun to think about things in a new way,” Levy said. “The riddles really challenge you to be like, ‘Oh, I never thought about that.’”

The sustainability scavenger hunt is meant to encourage students to be more sustainable and to help students be more aware of the resources available to them on campus. 

Valenti said it’s harder and less convenient for college students to practice sustainable habits. 

“I think Lehigh is doing a good job of getting people involved,” she said. 

Lehigh has done a lot over the years to become more sustainable. One of the ways it has done this is to put over 40 water bottle refill stations around campus. Fainor said Lehigh has saved over 1.2 million plastic water bottles.

“It would be great for students to be aware of resources on campus that empower them to be more sustainable and to use them more,” Fainor said. “That’s really what we want. We want students to use the resources that we give them and to use them effectively.”

He said many students do not know that they can only recycle things that have been cleaned of all contamination. If something is recycled that has any food or drink product in it, it contaminates the whole bin and everything inside can no longer be recycled.

This year, the Eco-Reps adopted the motto: “When in doubt, throw it out,” meaning that if students don’t know if something is recyclable, it is best to just throw it away.

The scavenger hunt officially ended on April 22. In true Eco-Reps style, the prize is a set of reusable produce bags to encourage students to continue to be more sustainable.

“We are hoping that it’s a lasting behavior change,” Fainor said. “Every time they go to the store they can use one less plastic item.”

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